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Property division issues when divorces happen later in life

When middle-aged or older people in North Carolina decide to divorce, they likely have accumulated significant marital assets. To negotiate an equitable division of marital property and possibly calculate child or spousal support, both parties must identify all marital assets and income. Retirement accounts, inheritances, life insurance policies and future Social Security benefits all enter the equation when determining the final terms of the divorce.

The law views retirement accounts as marital property. People getting divorces need to become familiar with the specific documentation for their retirement plans. The plan rules direct how divorce distributions are valued and authorized.

As for an inheritance, it is generally considered the beneficiary's individual property. However, co-mingling the funds with marital funds complicates this issue. Life insurance policies sometimes become necessary after a divorce to guarantee a person's commitments to pay spousal or child support. The person reliant on these support payments should insist on being the owner of the policy. This action ensures that the former spouse paying for the policy does not have the power to change the beneficiary.

When planning long-term finances post-divorce, a person might need advice about Social Security benefits. Marriages that lasted at least 10 years could entitle one former spouse to collect benefits based on the other spouse's Social Security earnings.

Due to the complexity of these issues, a person seeking a divorce after a long-term marriage typically asks for advice from financial planners and attorneys. An attorney could answer family law questions related to inheritance and child support. Legal support might empower someone during negotiations by providing information about rights to certain property. To settle the divorce, numerous documents need to be submitted to the family court. An attorney may be able to prepare and review the final paperwork before the client signs anything.

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Bull & Reinhardt, PLLC
160 E. Chestnut Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Phone: 828-348-8053
Fax: 828-254-5166
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